Four months and four days after school officials unveiled their first draft of a countywide elementary school redistricting plan, the Harford County Board of Education approved new elementary school attendance boundaries, effective next school year. Aimed at reducing overcrowding and balancing enrollment among the county’s 33 elementary schools, the final plan moves about 1900 students, or 11% of elementary enrollment, and meets some, but not all, of the school board’s original redistricting goals. The plan, approved on March 14, also allows for grandfathering next year’s fifth graders to remain at their current school, at parents’ option, with transportation provided by HCPS.
As intended, the final redistricting plan creates an attendance area for the new Red Pump Elementary School in Bel Air and relieves overcrowding at both Prospect Mill and Emmorton Elementary Schools, but enrollment at other elementary schools will be above 100% of capacity. Responding to requests from some parents, the school board approved a total of 13 amendments before adopting the final plan, including a few just before the final vote, that will result in three schools over capacity: Youth’s Benefit (102.9%), Fountain Green (101.6%); and Hickory (100.6%).
Changes made by the school board were not the only adjustments made to the proposal along the way. Since creating the original draft, the Superintendent’s Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) revised their own proposal, sometimes based on suggestions made by parents. The revisions adopted by STAC did not leave any county elementary schools over capacity.
In total, HCPS received over 600 redistricting messages from parents, according to STAC Chairman Joe Licata. In years past, angry parents crowded public hearings, decrying a lack of public involvement in the redistricting process. This time, many parents publicly thanked school officials for responding to their concerns.
At the March 14 school board meeting, following final approval of the plan, Licata recalled redistricting being “downright ugly in the past”, but commended parents for their demeanor this time around, adding, “It makes me proud to be a Harford County resident”.
Below is a March 25 redistricting update from HCPS, followed by the updated maps and enrollment figures for each elementary school.
COMPREHENSIVE REDISTRICTING PLAN APPROVED
The Board of Education of Harford County unanimously approved the Comprehensive Elementary Redistricting Plan at its March 14, 2011, meeting. As well as the ten amendments to the proposed plan that were approved during the February 28th meeting, three additional amendments were adopted before the plan was made final:
– Return Thomas Run Road from Dublin Elementary School back to Prospect Mill Elementary School (adds six students to Prospect Mill Elementary School)
– Area of Deer Creek: Walters Mill Road to current northeast Hickory Elementary School boundary (adds 19 students to Hickory Elementary School and subtracts 19 from North Harford Elementary School)
– Amend Alternative 6 to extend to the Woodsbrook Community to Youth’s Benefit Elementary School (three additional students to Youth’s Benefit).
In effect for the 2011-12 school year, approximately 1,900 elementary students, representing 11% of the Harford County Public Schools (HCPS) elementary population, will transfer to new schools. The HCPS website is currently being updated to include the final redistricting plan. [The] school locator feature is current with the approved plan at this time. [Final maps and elementary capacity figures have been published and appear below]
The Board of Education of Harford County, the Superintendent and his Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) would like to graciously thank the parents and the community for taking an active role in this process. Working together, the goals of the redistricting initiative were achieved while offering solutions that make sense for the community. The Elementary Redistricting Steering Committee will continue to work to ensure a smooth transition for those students who are changing schools.
Final Approved Elementary Attendance Area Maps:
Final Elementary Capacity Figures: